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With its prime location between the Caribbean and Pacific, Honduras' natural and historical treasures remain its greatest attractions for visitors. The Bay Islands, off the Caribbean coast, offer all that you would expect from a Caribbean island destination: superb diving, snorkelling and fishing around gorgeous coral reefs. But what gives Honduras an edge over its neighbours is the extensive rainforest jungle (the largest in Central America) that marks its inland territory. Additionally, the nation boasts the impressive Mayan ruins at Copan, which are widely considered to be some of the best-preserved ruins around.
Unfortunately, Honduras' lack of wealth has given it a slow start in setting up as a tourist destination. But for those visitors willing to put up with some roughness around the edges, Honduras promises a fantastic holiday.
In pre-Columbian times, modern Honduras was part of the Mesoamerican cultural area. In the west, the Maya civilization flourished for hundreds of years. The dominant state within Honduras's borders was that based in Copán. Copán fell with the other Lowland centres during the conflagrations of the Terminal Classic, the early 9th century. The Maya of this civilisation survive in western Honduras as the Ch'orti', isolated from their Choltian linguistic peers to the west.
Christopher Columbus landed on the mainland near modern Trujillo in 1502 and named the country Honduras ("Depths") for the deep waters off its coast. In January, 1524, Cortés directed captain Cristóbal de Olid to establish a colony for him in Honduras. Instead, he claimed the colony for himself. After the Spanish discovery, Honduras became part of Spain's vast empire in the New World within the Kingdom of Guatemala. Trujillo and Gracias were the first city-capitals. The Spanish ruled the region for approximately three centuries.
Honduras, along with the other Central American provinces, gained independence from Spain in 1821 with the independence of the viceroyalty of New Spain (today Mexico) as they were part of; it then briefly was annexed to the Mexican Empire. In 1823, Honduras joined the newly formed United Provinces of Central America. In 1888, a projected railroad line from the Caribbean coast to the capital, Tegucigalpa, ran out of money when it reached San Pedro Sula, resulting in its growth into the nation's main industrial center and second largest city.
Silver mining was a key factor in the Spanish conquest and settlement of Honduras. The American-owned Barger Mining Company was a major gold and silver producer but shut down its large mine at San Juancito in 1954. In 1969, Honduras and El Salvador fought what would become known as the Football War. There had been border tensions between the two countries after Oswaldo López Arellano, a former president of Honduras, blamed the deteriorating economy on the large number of immigrants from El Salvador. During the early 1980s, the United States established a continuing military presence in Honduras with the purpose of supporting the Contra guerillas fighting the Nicaraguan government and also developed an air strip and a modern port in Honduras.
In 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused such massive and widespread loss that former Honduran President Carlos Roberto Flores claimed that fifty years of progress in the country were reversed.
A military coup on 28 June 2009 deposed Zelaya and exiled him to Costa Rica, a neutral country. The head of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, became the provisional president. However, due to the stance taken by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, most countries in the region and in the world continue to recognize Zelaya as the President of Honduras and have denounced the coup as an assault on democracy
Honduras borders the Caribbean Sea on the north coast and the Pacific Ocean on the southeastern side of the country through the Gulf of Fonseca. Guatemala is located to the west, Nicaragua to the southeast and El Salvador to the southwest. It is the second largest Central American republic and around 110,000 km2. Honduras consists mostly of mountains, but there are also narrow plains along the coasts, and a large undeveloped lowland jungle La Mosquitia region in the northeast, where you can find the UNESCO World Heritage Site Río Plátano Biosphere Reserve, with the Coco River dividing the country from Nicaragua. Finally, there are heavily populated lowlands in the Sula valley in the northwest. In the Caribbean Sea, the islands of Roatan (Isla de Roatán), Utila, and Guanaja together form Islas de la Bahía (Bay Islands). The Islas Santanillas, formerly known as Swan Islands are located even further away in the Caribbean Sea. A number of small islands and keys can be found nearby, among them Cayos Zapotillos and Cayos Cochinos. In the Gulf of Fonseca in the southeast of the country, the main islands are El Tigre, Zacate Grande, and Exposición.
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The ancient Mayan site of Copan was discovered in 1570 by Diego García de Palacio and nowadays functions as one of the most important sites of the Mayan civilization. However, they were not excavated until the 19th century. The ruined citadel and imposing public squares reveal the three main stages of development before the city was abandoned in the early 10th century. As a result of its historical significance it is placed on the Unesco World Heritage List.
Another important Unesco sight is located in the northwest of the country, which mainly contains uninhabited areas. The Río Plátano Biosphere reserve is one of the few remains of a tropical rainforest in Central America and has a high biodiversity with abundant and varied plant and wildlife. Besides its natural significance, there are over 2,000 indigenous people who live here and have preserved their traditional way of life in piece with the surrouding pristine nature.
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Roatan is part of the magnificent Honduras Bay Islands, which are located north of the mainland in the Caribbean Sea. The island and many others have some most beautiful white and palmfringed beaches which are good for relaxing after an exhausting trip into the interior of the country. To add, the snorkelling and diving is among the best spots in the Caribbean, because of its proximity near the largest barrier reef in the Caribbean Sea (and the second worldwide after The Great Barrier Reef). The island is visited by both upmarket cruiseship passengers as low budget backpackers.
Literally translating to “Easter Week,” this festival is a multi-day celebration in March or April every year depending on the Christian calendar. The best place to witness it is undoubtedly in the Honduran mountain town of Santa Rose de Copan, which is close to the Mayan Copan ruins. Here there are six separate parades reenacting biblical events from the Easter story, and the effort and detail is a true spectacle.
A uniquely Honduran festival celebrating the Garifuna community, Punta Gorda takes place annually on April 12. It commemorates the day in which 4,000 Garifuna people were placed on the island of Roatan, thus commencing their settlement of the islands and Caribbean coast. Punta Gorda has the biggest celebration, with many gathering here to take part in the festivities.
Held annually in the town of La Ceiba the week preceding the third Saturday in May, this festival sees over a quarter million Hondurans flocking to the town to take part in the celebration. It is a lively fun-filled event full of street pageantry similar to Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.
Held the last week of June in San Pedro Sula, this festival has a host of live musical performances, eating and drinking. The climax is a parade down the thoroughfare of Avenida Circunvalacion on June 29.
Held on the third weekend of July, this festival celebrates Garifuna culture and draws in communities from Belize and Guatemala, as well as Caribbean Honduras. It is held in the town of Bajamar, near Puerto Cortes, and is a huge party of drinking and dancing.
Most places in Honduras have tropical conditions with high temperatures and humidity yearround. Still, there are quite some differences. While the lower areas are hot and humid, some cities inland including the capital Tegucigalpa have more enjoyable weather, with highs between 24 °C and 28 °C and nights around 15 °C, about 5 °C lower than coastal areas for example.
In general, the wet season lasts from May to November, but some places, like La Ceiba at the northcoast have wetter weather from October to February! March and April thus are good months to visit most areas of Honduras.
For the time being, there are no rail options between Honduras and neighbouring countries.
Honduras is connected to El Salvador and Nicaragua via the Pan-American Highway and and to Guatemala on the Western Highway, but most foreigners don't travel by car. If you do, be sure to arrange everything before arriving on the border, stay alert and avoid travelling when it's dark, as borders might be closed or dangerous areas
The main crossings to Guatemala are Agua Caliente, El Corinto and El Florido. Crossings to and from El Salvador are at El Amatillo and El Poy and to Nicaragua at El Espino, Guasaule and Las Manos. There are frequent buses to these border posts, but just a few buses travel directly between Tegucigalpa and neighbouring countries/capitals.
So most of the time you just cross the border on foot and take an onward bus on the other side. Try Ticabus for direct international services.
Another big operator is King Quality, which travels on the San José de Costa Rica - Tapachula (Mexico) route, with buses between the capitals of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.
There are several connections from towns in the south of Belize like Dangriga and Punta Gorda to Puerto Cortes in Honduras, but usually only once a week. There's also a boat from Lívingston and/or Puerto Barrios in Guatemala to Omoa in Honduras, usually at least several times a week. You might find boats to Nicaragua on the Caribbean coast and to both Nicaragua and El Salvador on the Pacific side, but services are infrequent and not timetabled. Try San Lorenzo for the latter option.
There is a connection between Placencia (via Big Creek) to Puerto Cortes but it doesn't go very often, usually once a week. If you are going to/from Honduras you can take a "water taxi" here's the ferry website. Or check it at Belize Ferry website. It costs US$55 one-way. To Belize (Big Creek & Placencia), it departs Puerto Cortes every Monday at 11:30am (Leaves from "Puente Laguna" (Lagoon Bridge) next to Delfin Restaurant in Puerto Cortes) and to Honduras (Puerto Cortes) it departs Placencia every Friday at 9:30am (Leaves from Placencia Shell Dock). Thed eparture at Big Creek is every Friday at 11:00am. The boat arrives around 2:00pm.
There are also water taxis between Dangriga and Puerto Cortes. The “Nesymein Neydy” departs from Dangriga to Puerto Cortes on Fridays. The boat departs about 11:00am. Arrives at Puerto Cortes about 1:30pm. It departs Puerto Cortes on Mondays at 9:00am. It costs US$55.00 one-way.
If you are going to/from Belize you can take a "water taxi" here's the ferry website.
There are almost no regular passenger trains but there are possibilities to hop on freighter trains which sometimes have passenger facilities, including a trip from San Pedro Sula on a banana train, and to Cuero y Salado National Park on a coconut train. But these are no certain options, especially if your time is limited.
You can rent cars at several airports in the country and in Tegucigalpa. Roads between the capital and the coastal areas of the Pacific and Caribbean are generally in relatively good shape and can be travelled by regular car, even in the wet season. In the rest of the country, roads are generally of poor quality, if there are roads at all like in the northeast. Driving is on the right side of the road and travelling at night is not recommended because of safety and road conditions, unlit cars etc.
Buses are the way to go in Honduras, with regular, reliable and cheap connections between the capital, most larger cities and towns as well as some more off the beaten track places, albeit with infrequent intervals. Try to arrange your tickets earlier the same day or the day before, as some routes can be fully booked as it is popular with locals and foreigners altogether. For an overview of schedules and connections, also international ones, see thebussschedule.com.
Several ferries operate between ports on both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines. The most popular sailings are from La Ceiba and Puerto Cortés to the Bay Islands several times a week, including those to Roatan.
Citizens of the United States, Canada, most European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand can get a 90-day tourist cards when entering the country. A yellow piece of paper will be stapled into your passport - don’t lose it, as you’ll have to turn it in when you leave, or get it stamped if you extend your stay. You can extend your stay once for another 90 days.
Note that since 2006 a 90-day stay actually means a stay within the Centro America 4 (CA4) region, including Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua. You can extend the stay with another 90 days, after which you have to leave the region, for example to Belize, Mexico or Costa Rica.
See also Money Matters
The lempira (code: HNL) is the currency of Honduras. It is subdivided into 100 centavos.
There are coins in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50 centavos. Bank notes come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 lempira.
Related article: Spanish: Grammar, pronunciation and useful phrases
Spanish is the main language in Honduras, but most people on the Bay Islands speak English. The Native languages of Lenca, Miskito, and Garífuna are also spoken in some regions.
The Honduran "Plato tipico" is the most famous lunch. It consists of rice, beef, fried beans (frijolitos), and fried bananas (tajaditas). If you are lucky, it will also come with chimol, a fresh, non-spicy salsa made of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, cilantro and lime juice.
Baleadas are a Honduran original, and a nearly ubiquitous cheap and quick meal. A baleada sencilla (simple) consists of a thick flour tortilla filled with refried beans, cheese (queso), and a type of cream similar to sour cream but not sour (crema or mantequilla). These can be found for as little as 10-15 Lempira. A baleada especial usually also comes with eggs in it and you can sometimes get avocado or even meat these range from 30-50 Lempira.
Other choices are tacos and enchiladas, though don't expect them to be like those in Mexico. The tacos are meat rolled in a corn tortilla and deep fried. The enchiladas are a flat fried corn tortilla topped with ground beef, cheese and a red sauce.
One commonly known Honduran treat is called a macheteada, which is a tortilla filled with sweet, sugary, flour and sugar.
Honduran Coffee is great, recognized around the world for its rich taste, with the brands from Copan are usually being the best. Welches is considered to be the best by many locals. A less well known, yet very rich blend is Cloud Forest brand of coffee, which is grown in the higher "Cloud Forest" regions of the nation. This brand also offers buyers the chance to help aid organizations every time the product is purchased. Coffee from Lepaera, Lempira, was judged to be the best coffee in the world but can be difficult to find, even in Lepaera itself, since it is highly demanded around the world and exported accordingly.
See also Travel Health
There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Honduras. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Honduras) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Honduras. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B, tuberculosis, rabies and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.
Malaria is prevalent in the country and it is recommended to take malaria pills and take other normal anti-mosquito precautions as well. Dengue sometimes occurs as well. There is no vaccination, so buy mosquito repellent (preferably with 50% DEET), and sleep under a net. Also wear long sleeves if possible.
Finally, other possible health issues include diarrhea and other general travellers' diseases like motion sickness. Watch what you eat and drink and in case you get it, drink plenty of fluids (to prevent dehydration) and bring ORS.
See also Travel Safety
Use common sense at all times and be aware of your surroundings. Foreigners are sometimes robbed on the streets of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula at night by thieves who stake out areas in front of tourist hotels, and even in daylight if one happens to be in the wrong part of the city. When taking a taxi in Tegucigalpa check for radio dispatched walkie talkies as people have been robbed at gun or knife point. Violent crime is common enough in San Pedro Sula with robberies and even gang violence. San Pedro Sula, in fact, has the highest murder rate of any city of Honduras, though mainly among rival gangs seeking to control the various illicit trades. Violent crime and robbery is also very common in Tegucigalpa, the capital city, as well as other smaller towns throughout Honduras.
No matter where you are in Honduras, you should find Internet access, either in a cafe, mall, or cybercafe. Most hotels, even hostels, have their own Internet service, and more and more are beginning to have Wi-Fi service. Roughly 90% of these hotels offer Wi-Fi for free, yet some international chain hotels in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, as well as a few resorts on Roatán, charge a fee that ranges between US$6 and US$15 per day. If the hotel does not have Internet service, the hotel staff can usually point out where to find it. Expect to pay approximately 20 lempira per hour.
See also International Telephone Calls
The emergency numbers are 199 (police), 195 (ambulance) and 198 (fire). The international area code in Honduras is 504. All local phone numbers are eight digits, including the area code. Numbers either start with a 2 (landline) or a 9 (cellular).
Kiosks and convenience stores throughout Honduras sell phone cards with individual instructions on long-distance dialing, and phone booths at telephone centers will provide instructions on dialing.
Honduras's largest phone companies, such as Telefonica, operate on a GSM 850 or 1900 MHZ frequency, which several large North American carriers also use, though these frequencies are rare in other parts of the world. Any dual or multiband GSM cellphone will work in Honduras, but you might pay expensive roaming rates; it's better to buy a local SIM card and install it in your own cell phone for cheaper rates.
You can also rent a phone at kiosks located on the arrival level at the San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa airport; they are open daily from 6:00am to 9:00pm. Depending on your service, you may be able to insert your own SIM card, though you'll likely still pay regular roaming rates. Some cellphone companies in Honduras will rent phones with prepaid calling cards.
Honducor is the country's national postal service. Post offices are open from Monday to Friday from 8:00am to 5:00pm (though generally with a long lunch break) and on Saturday from 8:00am to noon. Sendings standard letters or postcards internationally start at around US$1 and take 10-14 days at least. You can get stamps at a post office and at some gift shops in large hotels. The Honduran postal service is renowned for being considerably more reliable than in other Central American nations, though if you are sending anything of value, it is still recommended to use an international courier service like DHL, UPS, TNT or FedEx, which have offices in larger cities.
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I'm 19. I just drove the panamerican highway With my family, to panama and back and spent good time in each country. If you would like any help or reliable info just ask!! Love this part of the world!! Speak Spanish! Been all over the world!
Glad to help in any way!!
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I am from Canada but have lived in Honduras for 15 years mostly as a Health Care volunteer.
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I have traveld all over Honduras for the past 3 years, I have close friends and family there.
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I lived in Honduras for 5 months...i was an exchange student so i lived with a family, went to a spanish-speaking highschool, and i also did some volunteer work in my city (Comayagua)
I have a good amount of knowledge about the tourist attractions and various places to go throughout the country, but my real area of expertise is my knowledge of the people and culture of this beautiful but struggling third-world country.
I'd love to answer any questions that i can about Honduras.
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